What Do We Teach?
Our curriculum uses STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to investigate and solve local community issues. We address the core subjects of history, mathematics, English, and science through the lens of local environmental science.
Our electives are woven into the core curriculum through sustainable gardening, cooking, nutrition classes, music lessons, athletic conditioning, yoga and meditation, and art. Assignments are project-based and lessons are delivered with in-class discussion rather than by lecture. This ensures limited “down-time” as often found in traditional school settings and allows opportunities for learning to develop organically.
Students learn how to accomplish a task by doing it and then understanding the concepts that support it, thus combining experience and knowledge. They establish the method of life-long learning during this research phase. Students that use this strategy mature into self-sufficient, adaptive, and constructive adults.
Active learning, and thus our program, revolves around project-based work. Most curriculum-related activities, such as building and service projects, research, and curriculum-related activities, require long-term collaboration with local experts (engineers, writers, historians, professional athletes, environmental activists, business leaders, musicians, entertainment professionals, chefs, and so on). This teaches our kids to plan, prioritize, execute, and recognize the value of quality, as well as to take responsibility for their own work and to appreciate its significance in a team effort. They discover their passions and interests as a result, which they can pursue after graduation.
Lao Tzu wrote "Knowing others is intelligence, Knowing yourself is Wisdom". Our students practice wisdom and learn how to objectively examine what was done well and what could be done better by reflecting on their individual work. This ability is not the same as judgment. In this self-evaluation process, there is no shame, reward, or punishment. We are all endowed with assets and responsibilities. Students can strengthen their assets and deal effectively with liabilities if they are well-versed in them.
In addition to active learning, adolescents must be able to reflect honestly and critically on their work (with self-compassion rather than self-anger) in order to continue to grow and, as a result, benefit society.
With weekly self-assessments and cycle grade recommendations, we assist students in developing this competence. In each subject area, students must describe the content, process, and outcomes of their learning in great detail. Teachers/mentors provide feedback to students' parents/guardians and share weekly self-assessments and cycle grades.